The encouraging response to our recent article Pray, Pray Again, Pray Some More and other prayer related articles leads me to conclude that there is a desire to grow deeper in prayer on the part of Lambchow readers. To that end we are going to begin a series based on Jesus’ model prayer. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” (Matthew 6:9–13, NASB95) I know that for most of you this is not new territory, there are many books, studies, and sermons about the Lord’s Prayer. Those studies often take the form of pattern, pray this, than this, etc. What I’m hoping to encourage instead is freedom in prayer and a prayer life that is constant and vital as we go about our day.
I remember being intimidated by prayer and in some settings I still am. I would sit in church or in a prayer meeting and feel inadequate as I listened to the beautifully articulated prayers of others. I marveled at how easily they moved between various topics and how they seemed to touch the heart of God in ways I couldn’t even fathom. I also remember being bored when prayers stretched longer than expected or needed. I remember tuning out when public prayers turned into mini-sermons aimed at us instead of God. I remember feeling that my prayers would be judged or corrected. One night in my late teens I was driving home from a Bible Study of college aged peers. I was frustrated that my prayers did not rise to the level of others. My prayer that night was – “Lord, teach me to pray.”
It’s not that I didn’t pray or know the basics. However my rather informal and conversational style of personal prayer seemed miles apart from what I heard from others. The answer that I received from my prayer unfolded over many years. There are still times when group prayer is uncomfortable as I struggle to find the best words to express the prayer that is my heart. My mind still wanders when the prayers of others stretch beyond the need or become mini-sermons. The things I have learned along the way however has made my personal prayers vital, relevant, and effective. They are often on the go prayers, brief flashes of connecting with God in the joys, struggles, challenges, and needs of the moment.
I like to think of prayer as being like trail mix. That portable high energy food hikers use while they walk through the wilderness. It is often a mix of nuts, dried fruit, honey, and chocolate chunks; each handful similar but different. Other Bible studies have excellent plans for those moments when we can sit and pray. This series is not designed to teach you how to fill an hour of quiet time. Nor will it demonstrate how to craft beautiful public prayers. It won’t teach you how to get anything you want from God. My hope and prayer is that this series will encourage heart prayers that meet the command in Scripture to pray without ceasing. That prayer would no longer be relegated to a few minutes in the morning and at the dinner table, or wait until the next prayer meeting or, only whispered in the moment of crisis, but that we would all partake and be energized with God’s trail mix of prayer as each moment of the day unfolds.